Essential Safety Equipment for Sports

Prevent sports injuries with basic sports safety equipment

Sports safety equipment and gear may sometimes look a little bit odd or unfashionable, but using the right protective safety gear for your sport is essential for preventing serious injuries or reducing the severity of an injury you may receive. After all, the point of a sport is to actually enjoy participating, and getting injured can keep you off the playing field for weeks or more. 

Here are some of the most important pieces of safety gear for athletes of all sports.

Protective Eyewear

eye protection for sports
eye protection for sports. photo courtesy of PriceGrabber

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, more than ninety percent of all sports-related eye injuries can be prevented with the use of appropriate protective eyewear. This advice definitely applies to athletes or anyone who participates in sports. There are a variety of clear as well as tinted sunglasses and goggles for nearly every sport, so shop around for the ones that fit your style and your face and keep your eyes protected.

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Australians React To The Death Of Phillip Hughes
A shop assistant (L) helps a father and son choose a cricket helmet at the Greg Chappell Cricket Centre store on November 28, 2014 in Melbourne, Australia. Cricket player, Phil Hughes passed away aged 25, as a result of head injuries sustained during the Sheffield Shield match between South Australia and New South Wales at the SCG on Tuesday.. Scott Barbour/Getty Images

If you play football or hockey, wearing a helmet is clearly a "no-brainer," but many athletes who participate in sports with a high risk of head injury still see the helmet as optional. However, with the growing awareness of the dangers concussions can cause later in life, the necessity of proper head protection has become clear.

If you cycle, ski, snowboard, skateboard or inline skate you need to consider a helmet as standard equipment. A properly fitted helmet, designed for the specific sport you play, significantly decreases your risk of suffering a serious head injury, and even death.

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Mouth Guards

AFL Rd 14 - Richmond v Sydney
The indigenous mouthguard of Adam Goodes of the Swans is seen during the round 14 AFL match between the Richmond Tigers and the Sydney Swans at Melbourne Cricket Ground on June 20, 2014 in Melbourne, Australia.. Michael Dodge/Getty Images

If you've ever been smacked in the jaw by a stray ball or flying elbow while playing sports, you probably know how essential a mouth guard is to keeping your teeth where they should be—in your mouth. But mouth guards also help prevent tongue and lip injuries, and help reduce the risk of suffering a concussion or fractured jaw.

Mouth guards should be considered mandatory safety equipment during sports that have any risk of injury to the face, jaw or mouth. The most effective mouth guards fit well and are comfortable, but they also stay in place, are durable, easy to clean and don't restrict speaking and breathing.

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Safety Pads and Guards

Shoulder pads and helmet
Jul 1993: Shoulder pads and the helmet of a Kansas City Chiefs player a the Chiefs training camp at the University of Wisconsin in River Falls, Wisconsin. Jonathan Daniel /Allsport/Getty Images

Safety pads and guards are standard sports safety equipment in dozens of activities. If you play certain contact sports, such as football, hockey or lacrosse, protective pads are required, but you should wear pads for any contact sport. The type and style of pads seem endless and include shin, knee, elbow, wrist, chest, neck, shoulder, hip and thigh pads.

Some sports, such as inline skating and skateboarding, include wrist, knee and elbow guards as standard equipment. These hard plastic guards prevent cuts, scrapes and abrasions and reduce the odds of a major sprain, strain or even a fracture after a hard fall.

Even in snowboarding, knee pads and wrist guards can be a great advantage. A wipeout on a snowboard usually involves you naturally reaching out with your arms to break your fall, and in the process it's very easy to break a wrist.

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Proper Footwear and Athletic Shoes

FC Barcelona v Real Betis Balompie - Liga BBVA
Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona warms up wearing his personalized “Golden Football Boots” prior to the start of the la Liga match between FC Barcelona and Real Betis Balompie at the Camp Nou stadium on January 15, 2012 in Barcelona, Spain.. Jasper Juinen/Getty Images

The type of shoe you wear during certain sports can easily be added to the safety equipment list.

Sports cleats are important during field sports, such as football, baseball and soccer.

The right running shoes can decrease your risk of overuse injuries.

Special cycling shoes can reduce foot pain and increase your pedaling efficiency.

Court shoes with support and good traction are designed specifically for basketball, tennis and racquetball.

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